Rodon bests Keuchel as Sox top Astros
CHICAGO -- Rookie Carlos Rodon held the Astros scoreless in six innings in a matchup with Houston ace Dallas Keuchel as the White Sox took a 4-2 win over the Astros on Tuesday night at U.S. Cellular Field.
Slugger Jose Abreu hit a two-run home run and Melky Cabrera drove in a pair of runs to provide the White Sox with a four-run cushion before heralded Astros rookie Carlos Correa, in just his second game, cracked his first Major League homer, a two-run shot off Zach Duke in the ninth inning to cut the deficit in half.
Rodon (2-0) gave up four hits and two walks while striking out five. He threw a season-high 116 pitches.
"He has that bulldog mentality of just going out and gutting his way through it and just battling," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said of Rodon. "I think that's an impressive part of what we're learning about him -- the way he goes about it, how much he cares, and how much he puts on his own shoulders."
The Astros are still in first place in the American League West, but have dropped a season-high six straight games.
"We've got a lot of fight in us, and we're going through a tough stretch," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. "We'll come out of it a better team and learn a lot from this time, but any loss hurts."
Even the presence of Keuchel (7-2) couldn't get the Astros untracked. The left-hander cruised through the first five innings -- running his scoreless innings streak this season against Chicago to 14 innings -- before Abreu golfed a 1-0 fastball over the right-center-field fence in the sixth inning to make it 2-0.
Keuchel allowed two runs on seven hits in seven innings with five strikeouts. He tossed a four-hitter against the White Sox on May 30 in Houston.
The White Sox broke open a tight game with two runs in the eighth inning against reliever Chad Qualls. Cabrera doubled with the bases loaded to plate two. Chicago reloaded the bases with none out, but Josh Fields came on to strike out three straight to end the threat.
Following Correa's homer with none out, it looked as if the wasted opportunity might come back to bite the White Sox, but closer David Robertson came on to get the final three outs for his 12th save.
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Two-iron shot: Keuchel had kept White Sox batters mostly off-balance through the first five innings, but suddenly found himself trailing in the sixth. Alexei Ramirez led off with a high chopper to the left of the mound for an infield hit. Abreu then somehow golfed a 91-mph fastball that was on the outside corner and at his ankles out to right-center.
"I don't really want that pitch back," said Keuchel. "I was trying to do some weak contact, and he put a big barrel on it. He's a strong guy."
Out of a jam: Keuchel allowed three consecutive hits to start the second inning, and for a moment, he looked to be headed to a rocky start. But a two-minute talk at the mound with catcher Hank Conger was enough to settle him down. Keuchel retired the next three with one strikeout to end the inning unscathed as part of a strong outing.
"Dallas was very sharp early," Hinch said. "He kept his pitch count extremely low early, and they got a couple singles to build that inning, but I thought he showed a lot of character coming out of that."
And another: Rodon also found himself with a bases-loaded jam, this one in the third inning with one out. But Rodon retired the next two batters on a strikeout and groundout to end that threat.
"I'm getting more confident," Rodon said. "I had some tough situations there early on, a big play by Gordon [Beckham]. The defense played great. Two big plays by Melky out there on line drives."
Correa slugs first homer: Correa hit a two-run home run to left field for his third big league hit. He shot a sharp single to left in the sixth inning for his second, and also stole his first base. Correa, one of the top prospects in baseball, has base hits in his first two Major League games.
"He's very impressive," Ventura said of Correa. "Even watching him on the field, usually you'll see some jitters or something. He's not rushed. Anybody that thinks he's rushed to be up here, he's not. He's a Major League player, and he's gonna give guys fits for a long time."
Flip the script: The Astros' George Springer made the last out by lining out to right, but he felt he had walked on a 3-1 pitch by Robertson. Springer flipped his bat toward the first-base dugout and was headed to first when home-plate umpire Larry Vanover called the pitch a strike.
After flying out, Springer ran to about first base before the ball was caught. At that point, he spiked his helmet and began pointing and shouting at Vanover.
"Emotions run high," Hinch said. "These are important games, and our guys are fighting. Obviously, as things build up, with at-bats and difficult games, guys care. The care is high, and I never have a problem with emotion."
"He's earned the respect of getting everybody's best stuff. If you're going to throw somebody your nastiest slider, for our team, he gets it." -- Ventura on Abreu's numbers being down this season.
"We're going to have to stick together. This game is hard. When it's not going your way, it's not going your way. We're going to have figure something out, stay with the process." -- Keuchel on the team's six-game losing skid.
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Houston third baseman Luis Valbuena is now 0-for-19 after finishing Tuesday's game 0-for-4 with two strikeouts. Valbuena is hitting .180 this season, having collected just three hits since May 27.
Astros: Right-hander Vincent Velasquez, 23, makes his Major League debut Wednesday as Houston closes out the three-game series at U.S. Cellular Field at 7:10 p.m. CT. The No. 4 prospect in the organization, Velasquez is the third Astros pitching prospect to skip Triple-A baseball and go to the Majors after he went 3-0 with a 1.37 ERA for Double-A Corpus Christi.
White Sox: Left-hander Jose Quintana pitches for the White Sox vs. Houston and will be looking to turn around his fortunes at U.S. Cellular Field at 7:10 p.m. CT. Quintana is 0-3 with a 4.22 ERA in four home starts this season. However, he pitched well in his last home outing, allowing three runs in seven in a no-decision against the Tigers on Friday.
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